Ex-al-Qaida spokesman recalls 9/11 with bin Laden

March 19, 2014

 

NEW YORK — Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law offered a rare glimpse of the al-Qaida leader in the hours after the Sept. 11 attacks, recounting during surprise testimony Wednesday in a Manhattan courtroom how the two met that night in a cave in Afghanistan.

“Did you learn about what happened … the attacks on the United States?” the son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, recalled bin Laden asking him.

The testimony came as Abu Ghaith’s trial on charges he conspired to kill Americans and aid al-Qaida as a spokesman for the terrorist group took a dramatic turn. His decision to take the witness stand was announced by his lawyer, Stanley Cohen, who surprised a nearly empty courtroom that quickly filled with spectators as word spread.

Abu Ghaith testified that bin Laden seemed worried that night and asked what he thought would happen next. Abu Ghaith said he predicted America “will not settle until it accomplishes two things: to kill you and topple the state of the Taliban.”

Bin Laden responded: “’You’re being too pessimistic,’” Abu Ghaith recalled.

Abu Ghaith said he wasn’t involved in recruiting aspiring terrorists and denied allegations that he had prior knowledge of the failed shoe-bomb airline attack by Richard Reid in December 2001.

His lawyers said they were hopeful that another part of Abu Ghaith’s testimony, that he had met self-professed Sept. 11 architect Khalid Sheik Mohammed, would cause the federal judge overseeing the trial to reconsider his decision to exclude Mohammed from testifying via videotape from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Washington Post.com: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ex-al-qaida-spokesman-to-testify-at-new-york-trial/2014/03/19/2b2b3a5a-af71-11e3-b8b3-44b1d1cd4c1f_story.html

9/11 trial moved out of Manhattan

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was set to be tried in a civilian court in Lower Manhattan. But after an assessment on the costs, logistical and security measures that would be required, the Obama Administration has decided to move it. The new location has yet to be disclosed.

NYC is responding with mixed reactions: some don’t want a vivid reminder of the event, some are concerned about security. Some want him tried in a military tribunal, others want justice for victims in a federal courtroom where the attack occurred.

Mayor of the small upstate city of Newburgh says his community would be a perfect place for the trial. They have a new courthouse, security could be easily implemented, and it is only a 90 minute drive from Manhattan.

9/11 trial is met with protest in Manhattan

The trial of self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) is being protested by NYC residents, some of whom are family and friends of 9/11 victims.

Demonstrators held signs that read “no constitutional rights for enemy combatants”. Some booed the names of Attorney General Eric Holden and President Obama.

The trial has divided the families of victims. Some say the trial is an opportunity to face the perpetrators of 9/11, while others fear the former site of the World Trade Center will become a jihadist recruitment center and that KSM should be treated like a war criminal in a military tribunal.

Key questions for 9/11 civilian court trials

In his effort to adhere to Consitutional values, not sacrifice democratic ideals for security, and better defeat an unconventional enemy, President Obama decided to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantánamo Bay detainees for their actions as criminals in a NYC civilian trial. This move is a departure from former President Bush’s desires to try them in military court.

This article discusses 7 key issues the trial faces in living up to Obama’s ideals.

9/11 plotter to be tried in NYC; trial faces major issues

Self-professed 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) will be tried along with four perpetrators in a Manhattan court just blocks from Ground Zero.

Attorney General Eric Holden is likely to pursue the death penalty for KSM.

He says of the decision, “For over 200 years, our nation has relied on a faithful adherence to the rule of law to bring criminals to justice and provide accountability to victims. Once again we will ask our legal system to rise to that challenge, and I am confident it will answer the call with fairness and justice.”

But the effort to criminalize the events of Sept. 11 and accord Mohammed the full panoply of rights enjoyed in a federal trial has infuriated and dismayed Republicans, as well as some organizations of victims’ families. They argued that military commissions at Guantanamo Bay offered a secure environment, a proper forum for war crimes, and adequate legal protections for a ruthless enemy.

“The Obama Administration’s irresponsible decision to prosecute the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in New York City puts the interests of liberal special interest groups before the safety and security of the American people,” said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) in a statement. “The possibility that Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his co-conspirators could be found ‘not guilty’ due to some legal technicality just blocks from Ground Zero should give every American pause.”